Great-grandad who has been a naturist for 75 years says it benefits his mental health and is ‘not about sex at all’
A 78-year-old great-grandad and three-time divorcee who has been a naturist all his life tells everyone he meets to live by his motto “dump the clothes, dump the worries”, adding “it’s stress relieving but it is not about sex at all”.
Derek Wooldridge, a currently single retired mechanical engineer from Norwich, distinctly remembers his first time trying naturism when he was sunbathing in the buff at age three and has not stopped since – whenever the sun comes out, he strips off to soak up the rays and goes swimming in his local river.
Derek, who has three sons, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, says the only time he has ever worn swimming trunks was when he went swimming with school, and he regularly goes on naturist holidays, taking each of his three ex-wives along with him over the years.
All of Derek’s friends and family know he is a naturist and he proudly displays naturism stickers on his front door. But Derek has never stripped down with his family as adults, despite going on holiday with his most recent ex-wife and her daughter to a nudist beach.
Derek believes there are a lot of misconceptions about naturism but asserts that it is “not about sex at all”, and thinks there should be more young people trying it out and an intergenerational mix when on his naturist holidays.
“None of my wives ever saw it as a problem that I am a naturist, I think it made them like me more, and they embraced it when we went on holiday – they found it relaxing too,” Derek said.
Derek’s first memory of trying naturism is at age three, and even then he could not understand why it was not the norm, as he remembers feeling completely relaxed.
He said: “I was playing with one of my pals who lived across the road from me and we went down to his garden.
“The sun was shining and it was a lovely day.
“We took our clothes off and it felt so nice.
“His dad came out of the house and saw us with no clothes on, and he went berserk.
“He started chasing us down the road and I couldn’t understand what we did wrong.
“I’ve been a naturist ever since.”
He explained that getting a telling-off from his friend’s dad did not put him off naturism: “I wouldn’t call myself a worrier, but I was taught that other people could have their opinions and you can have yours, and sometimes they differ.
“If they do, you must stick to your guns.”
Derek continues to get in the buff whenever the sun comes out, usually in the privacy of his own garden or when no-one is around, as he does not want to alarm anyone.
He said: “I get naked in the sunshine in my garden or somewhere where I can be out of people’s way.
“I don’t want to cause any trouble.
“I go down the river a lot and swim naked.
“I feel so relaxed and it’s lovely when I do that.
“The only time I have ever worn a costume is when I went to the swimming baths when I was in school.”
Derek finds that he feels calm whenever he strips down, which is the main reason he is a naturist.
He said: “It relieves stress to no end. It’s very freeing.”
All of Derek’s friends and family know he is a naturist, and he proudly displays naturism stickers on his front door.
He has even taken each of his ex-wives on naturist holidays and one of Derek’s funniest memories is when his car broke down on holiday when an ex-wife was in the passenger seat stark naked.
He laughed: “I ran out of fuel and I was waiting for somebody to give us a lift to a garage, and I put clothes on to stand by the car.
“But my ex-wife didn’t put hers on, and when someone came to help she was completely naked with her seatbelt on.
“I think they both had a bit of a shock.”
Derek’s sons and their families are naturists, but they tend not to socialise together in the buff.
He said: “One of my sons is in a little naturist group and they go off in their caravan with other naturists, and they trust their group and feel safe.
“But, often naturists don’t mix with different generations, and we don’t as a family.
“I took my ex-wife and her daughter to a nudist beach once, though, and we were all on the beach in the buff.
“We were happy just doing our own thing and we were the only ones there.”
To any young people who fancy trying naturism, Derek would recommend Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands as it is a popular destination.
He explained: “There are a lot of nudist beaches there.”
To anyone who is considering trying naturism for the first time, Derek says: “You may think that other people are looking at you, but everyone is just thinking about what they look like, so that’s nothing to worry about.”
Derek thinks there are a lot of misconceptions about being a naturist, especially that it is sexual.
He said: “It’s stress relieving but it is not about sex at all.
“I’ve been on naturist beaches with women, and they sometimes feel uncomfortable if non-naturists keep looking at them, and I’d say they usually feel safer in the naturist camps.
“When you’re in a group of naturists, it’s relaxing because you know the people around you are there for the same reasons as you.”
Derek said he would recommend giving naturism a go to anyone.
He said: “My motto is dump the clothes, dump the worries.
“Naturism is brilliant for everyone’s mental health.”